Mark: "My name is Mark. I'm here at Government Anonymous because I'm addicted...addicted to government aid."
Leader: "Welcome Mark. What made you finally decide to come tonight?"
Mark: "I've always had a job. I've always earned my own way. When I lost my job two years ago, I thought I could get a job right away. I'd always done that. I updated my resume, used all my contacts, took interview after interview. I couldn't get a job."
Leader: "You're not alone. It's been difficult for many in this economy."
Mark: "I applied for unemployment. They suggested that I apply for food stamps. With their help, I was applying for any benefit I could get. Pretty soon I was spending more time applying for and keeping my aid than finding a way off. I was going on the minimal interviews required. I was just going through the motions. Government aid is designed to help, but it became a trap to me, an all-too-comfortable crutch. Even worse, I stopped believing that I could make my own way."
Leader: "Go on."
Mark: "I know that everyone is going to have times that they need help. I just thought it was my turn. After all, I had convinced myself that the money was there. Then when President Obama said that the rich--those top 1% he's always talking about--needed to step up and pay more, I wanted to believe that was fair. I didn't want to give up my benefits, but I didn't realize how much the rich already paid."
Leader: "What do you mean?"
Mark: "When I found out that the top 1% of American income earners already pay 38% of the federal income taxes and nearly 50% of Americans pay no income tax, I couldn't believe it. While I was being encouraged to game the system, I felt like I was justifying stealing from my neighbor. That's far from fair. And it's more than the poor who are getting these benefits. It's out of control."
Leader: "But why are you here tonight?"
Mark: "It's not just wrong to justify taking more from my neighbor; the government is broke. I didn't realize how much until I saw John Stossel explain it in a way I could understand. He didn't talk about trillions in debt. Who can understand how big a trillion dollars really is?. Stossel put the problem in terms of an average American family. If America was a family, its average income would be $24,700--its annual spending $37,900. This year, that family would have added $13,300 in new credit card debt. But that is nothing compared to the existing credit card balance--$153,500. Who could sleep with a debt like that? And who would be paying for this? Our kids will! We are taking now, and they will get the bill later."
Leader: "Is that why you’re here?"
Mark: "I'm tired of being dependent. I'm tired of taking instead of contributing. I'm tired of politicians over promising and not being responsible for my son's future. The president says he's ready to cut spending, but the deficit just keeps growing."
Leader: "I can see why this might impact your vote, but I'm not sure why it would get you here to Government Anonymous tonight?"
Mark: "I'm addicted, and I'm ashamed of being one of the takers. I'm ashamed of being dependent on government when I want to work. I want to be a better influence on my son. I want him to have a dream...the dreams I once had. Dreams I still want to have."
Leader: "Your son?"
Mark: "Yesterday, my son asked me something I didn't want to answer."
Leader: "What did he ask?"
Mark: "He asked me, 'When I grow up, will I have food stamps, too?' I wanted to cry. That's not the dream I want for him. That's not the dream I want. I want off."
Leader: "That's what we were waiting to hear."